Tropical rainforests are home to thousands of species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes. Scientists suspect that there are many species living in rainforests have not yet been found or described.
There are areas of rainforests where plants are densely packed. Areas where sunlight can reach the surface are full of interesting plants. In other areas a canopy, made from the branches and leaves of tall trees, shades the ground below, preventing smaller plants from growing.
Rainforests get their name because they receive a lot of rain – an average of 80 inches (203 cm) a year! Rainforests are found at and near the equator, where it is always warm and muggy. The temperature doesn’t change very much during the year.Learn more about the animals that live in tropical rainforests by exploring the links below :
Insects of the Tropical Rain Forest
On this page we will learn about insects, arachnids, centipedes and other “tiny creatures” of the rain forest. So, let’s get started!
The most feared spider in the world resides in the jungle. Tarantulas are one of the creepiest animals you will ever see. Most species of tarantula have poisonous fangs for killing prey and for protection. Although some are life-threatening to humans, others are harmless.
Army ants are just one species of ant in the rain forest. They are called army ants because they march in a long, thick line through the jungle. They only stop when the young larvae reach pupil stage. Once the queen lays its eggs, the ants start marching again!
Beautiful butterflies fill the forest, but at one time these insects weren’t so pretty. Butterflies start out as caterpillars, which tend to be on the ugly side. They go through metamorphosis, which is the process of changing into a butterfly. Centipedes aren’t so lucky. They don’t turn into butterflies, but instead roam the forest looking for food. Some centipedes use poison to kill their prey.
Tropical Rain Forest Birds
The birds of the rain forest are the most beautiful in the world. A wide range of colors can be seen flying through the trees. Many species of tropical birds are kept as pets because of their looks.
Hundreds of species of parrot live in the rain forest. The scarlet macaw is just one of these. It is also one of the longest, stretching to a length of 3 feet from its head to the tip of its tail. When these macaws eat a poisonous fruit, they eat a special type of clay that gets rid of the poison.
Toucans are also very colorful birds. They have large beaks that they use to reach fruit they can’t get to. Scientists estimate there are 33 species of toucan in the rain forest.
Not every tropical bird was blessed with looks. The hoatzin looks more like a peacock without the pretty tail. Hoatzins are terrible flyers that crash land all the time! The brown kiwi is a flightless bird that looks more like a rodent with a long beak and feathers. They have special claws used for running, digging and defense.
Tropical Rain Forest Mammals
Birds aren’t the only creatures that fly through the rain forests! Several species of flying mammals live in the jungle. From the harmless fruit bat to the flying squirrel, the tropical rain forests are full of surprises!
The Indian flying fox is one of the largest bats in the world. Its wings can spread out to 5 feet in width! Unlike bats in other parts of the world, these bats do not live in caves. They prefer to hang in trees during the day. Hundreds or even thousands of bats can be spotted in a single tree!
Vampire bats live in the Amazon jungle in South America. These bats do in fact drink the blood of their victims. They usually attack farm animals, but have also enjoyed the blood of humans. But don’t worry, vampire bats only drink a very small amount of blood. They won’t kill you, or turn you into a vampire!
Tropical Rain Forest Reptiles
The tropical rain forests of the world are full of reptiles. Reptiles are cold blooded, which means their body temperature depends on their environment. So, it is important for them to stay in warm climates.
Snakes are reptiles, and there are plenty of them in the rain forests! The mamba family is the most poisonous of all. They kill their prey by injecting poison with their sharp fangs.
Anacondas make up another snake family. They can reach 30 feet in length. Anacondas prefer to wrap themselves around their prey and squeeze, rather than inject poison. Anacondas swallow their prey whole and sleep while the food is digesting.
Chameleons are interesting lizards that can change color. Not only is this a great disguise from predators, it is also an easy way to sneak up on their prey. But don’t worry, chameleons only eat insects!
Geckos are very neat creatures. The flying gecko can glide from tree to tree to escape from predators. Their grip is so strong, that if you tried to pull one off a window, the glass would break before the gecko would let go!
Tropical Rain Forest Primates
Monkeys and their cousins are all primates. Humans are also primates. There are many species of monkey in the tropical rain forests of the world. Monkeys can be divided into two groups: new world monkeys and old world monkeys.
New world monkeys live only in South and Central America. Spider monkeys live in the rain forests in the Andes mountains. They look very strange with their long noses. Spider monkeys eat mostly fruit and nuts. They are joined by the howler monkeys. These primates are so named because they have a special sac that makes their sounds louder.
Old world monkeys live only in Africa and Asia. The colobus monkey is one such kind. These monkeys eat leaves. They live in small groups of 15, but other primates live in larger groups of up to 200.
There are too many species to discuss here, but we can name a few. Chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas are all called pongids. Gorillas are too big to climb trees, so they are found on the forest floor.